A dinner party isn’t just a way to chill with friends or celebrate a holiday. A dinner party is a key way to mingle with colleagues and those in your industry that you don’t know too well, but would love to collaborate with. It’s an easy way to slide in and get to know someone, and there will be more people around to help stir the conversation.
If you’re not sure where to start, think of five people you do and/or would like to work with or that you think would be great minds together in a group setting.
You can have a theme like Taco Night, where everyone brings their favorite ingredient, and you supply the main ingredients. If you’re on a tiny budget, pasta is key. It’s super cheap, you can make marinara or spruce up a jar of store bought with some added herbs. Grab a baguette, slather in olive oil, crushed garlic and toast it. You can also have the guests bring a salad, dessert, drinks, or supply it all yourself.
Be mindful of who has allergies or special diets. I once produced a film on a shoestring budget, and thought pasta was my winner to feed the cast and crew. It turned out, the Director of Photography was gluten free. Luckily, we were using her house for our location, and she made herself her own meal. Yes, I felt very guilty.
Keep it simple. Another cast and crew feast I hosted was a hot dog party. It’s fun, cheap, and everyone is happy. To keep the wieners warm, have them in a Crock pot on warm temp during the party. Everyone brings their fave condiments, you supply the buns, dogs, veggie dogs, chips, and some fun dressings.
Be cautious if you’re incorporating booze. A lot of people love to have a drink with friends, but not everyone partakes. The teetotalers don’t just drink water all the time. Soda, flavored sparkling water, or mocktails are fun. Another boozy tip: If you’re hosting brunch and the invite says ‘bring something’, you might end up with a table filled with booze and only the food you provided. That time we ended up drunk and hungry. This is why it’s a great idea to keep a list of who is bringing what.
Everyone loves to wind down with a cup o’ Joe before going home. Don’t break out the expensive beans if you’re hosting more than three or four guests. You’ll use the whole bag making that big of a pot. A simple brand your grandparents used to love won’t kill you just this once.
When sending out the invites, make it clear if they can bring a 1+ or come solo. You’d hate to have not enough and guests feel they can only get a tablespoon of each dish. Also, if this is business-related, the significant other might feel out of place if you’re all talking shop, but her, especially if no one else brought a plus one. Also be mindful of accessibility. It would be a shame if someone showed up with a tantalizing strawberry cheesecake, but couldn’t get their wheelchair up the flight of stairs at the entryway. If your friend is vision impaired, there might be walkways that aren’t well lit or that hole in the sidewalk. New places are tricky for low vision folks. Go downstairs to greet them, and they can follow you in.
Now that you’ve had your successful feast and the night is dwindling, don’t forget to thank everyone for coming and for what they brought.
Keep on eye out for our Snippets on meal ideas.